Get ready for the cliff dive
The Kansas City Star
It seemed to begin well. Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, came out a few days after the election in a conciliatory mood. They acknowledged that any “fiscal cliff” deal would have to include more revenue.
But President Obama came back with his usual “my way or the highway” approach, which has succeeded only in infuriating Republicans. Today, Boehner said the two sides were deadlocked.
Indeed, Obama’s latest offer was a joke. Published reports say he demanded close to $1 trillion in new revenue from higher tax rates now and another $600 billion a few months hence, squeezed out of any agreement on tax reform.
And Obama being Obama, he sought another $150 billion in “stimulus” spending. Apparently, spending money is the only tool in his economic-growth toolkit.
What did he offer in return? A vague promise of $400 billion in entitlement savings next year, but no particulars on where it would come from. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner also reportedly sought an end to the debt limit, permanently. Meanwhile, we’re hearing next to nothing about spending cuts.
It’s hard to see how this works to Obama’s long-term advantage. If we go over the cliff, we’ll probably get a recession. Some economists believe we’re already in one.
An economic downturn, on top of the last five years of misery, would blight this president’s second term like nothing else. And his feckless behavior is further poisoning his relationships with Capitol Hill Republicans, as if they weren’t bad enough already. That will make it even harder to get anything done in Washington.
The latest Bob Woodward book, “The Price of Politics,” pounded Obama for his incompetent handling of the debt ceiling talks last year. It doesn’t look as if he’s learned a thing from the experience.
Right now, I’d say we’re headed over the cliff.